Friday, November 9, 2012

The November Pogrom (Kristallnacht or The Night of Broken Glass)

Marching Nazis
Seventy-four years ago tonight, the German Nazi party took their first steps toward instigating the beginning of what was to become the Holocaust. 

SS Raid
Ransacked Jewish Home
On November 9, 1938, the SS, SA storm troopers, and Hitler Youth took to the streets in Germany and Austria, destroying synagogues, desecrating Jewish cemeteries, and damaging Jewish homes and businesses.

The pogrom (a state organized and executed act of terror) was triggered by the assignation of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan. 

Polish Jews Being Expelled
Hershel Grynszpan
Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew living in France, was trying to draw the world’s attention to the Nazi’s treatment of over 12,000 Polish-born Jews.  On October 28, 1938, Hitler had ordered them expelled from Germany within 24 hours.  Grynszpan’s family was part of the expulsion.

German Embassy
Ernst vom Rath
After Grynszpan received a postcard from his sister, detailing their flight from Germany, and Poland’s refusal to allow them entry, he purchased a gun.  On the morning of November 7, Grynszpan went to the Germany Embassy in Paris, and requested to see a
Herschel Grynszpan in Custody
German official.  When he was ushered into the office of Ernst vom Rath, Grynszpan shot him three times.  Grynszpan then waited for the French police to arrive and arrest him. In his pocket he carried a postcard he had written to his parents.  It read, “May God forgive me… I must protest so that the whole world hears my protest, and that I will do.” *

Joseph Goebbels
Broken Shop Windows
On November 9, 1938, vom Rath died of his wounds. Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels saw an opportunity to act against Jewish citizens. Goebbels issued instructions letting party leaders know that they could organize “spontaneous demonstrations” against the Jews in retaliation to vom Rath’s death. 

Damaged Storefront
Hitler Youth
These riots, led by storm troopers, the SS, German police, and Hitler Youth, began about 10:30 P.M. By morning, Nazi officials reported 91 Jews were killed, 1,000 Jews had been arrested, and 25,000 Jewish men - one third of all Jewish men in Germany - had been rounded up and sent to concentration camps, where, according to Nazi figures, more than 1,000 of them later died. 

Marched Through Town
The actual number of those killed is unknown. Some reports state the number could have been close to 1,000. It was reported that 30,000 Jewish men, between the ages of 16 and 60, were arrested and taken to concentration camps.  Over 2,000 died there within the next three months.
Map of Synagogues Destroyed

Official Nazi damage figures released the next day showed that 191 synagogues were demolished, and 815 Jewish businesses were destroyed.

Synagogue Ablaze
Destroyed Synagogue
Actual figures showed that 276 synagogues were set on fire that night, and over 1,670 synagogues were damaged or destroyed. Over 7,500 Jewish businesses and homes were obliterated.  In Vienna, Austria, 95 synagogues or houses of prayer were destroyed.

Burning Synagogue
Desecrated Cemetery
An unknown number of Jewish cemeteries were desecrated and destroyed, most located next to synagogues.  Among those was Schmieheim Cemetery in West Baden, the largest Jewish cemetery in Germany.  According to the United States Consul in Leipzig, the violence and vandalism reigned on the sacred sites and cemeteries were described as “approaching the ghoulish.”  Tombstones were damaged and uprooted.  Graves were dug up and violated.

Looted and Damaged Shop
50 Million Reichmark
On November 12, the Jewish community was fined 1 billion reichmarks for the damages incurred. In addition, another 4 million marks was demanded to repair shop windows.

German Citizens Hurry Past
Although Nazi officials thought that German citizens would take part in the
Jews Marched to Camps
destruction of Jewish synagogues, homes and businesses on November 9th, few did.  Citizens seemed to find it prudent to stand aside, or stay home with their windows closed and doors locked. But Nazi officials did realize that 60-million Germans had shown personal fear, or indifference to the plight of the Jews on the night of the pogrom.  Information worth knowing…

Hermann Goring
On November 12, Hermann Göring spoke at a formal government meeting, stating, “I implore competent agencies to take all measures for the elimination of the Jew from the German economy, and to submit them to me.”

The Holocaust had begun.

~ Joy

Hershel Grynszpan
*Herschel Grynszpan was held by the French government until 1940 when the Vichy government turned him over to the Nazis.  He spent time in several prisons and concentrations camps.  Then, sometime after 1942, Grynszpan vanished - without a trace.